we may have found a new house? i took ramona to the park yesterday for playgroup & i detoured through east lawrence on the way home to scout for rental signs. (i don’t usually walk through east lawrence because the sidewalks are old & overgrown, making it difficult to push a stroller. the sidewalks downtown are much smoother & easier for us.) i spotted a place at 11th & rhode island, about three blocks from our current place. i called the number & was pleased to hear that it was an entire house (no sharing walls with someone who might prove to be disruptive to or disrupted by a baby), with a third bedroom that jared could use as a home office, wood floors, washer & dryer–you know, all the basic things we would prefer in a rental. i was sad to hear that the rent was over $1000 a month. we pay far below market-rent right now & we knew we’d have to pay more for more space, especially if we wanted to stay in east lawrence, rather than moving to some cookie cutter town home in west lawrence, far away from parks, playgrounds, shops, etc. but it’s scary to think about paying that much rent. our last apartment in boston was only $1000 a month. in BOSTON. granted, that was six years ago. but still.
but the guy was very friendly & he got excited when i mentioned that jared is a PhD student in the history department. turns out he is acquainted with some of the professors. he was also excited when i said we were from boston. apparently he has family there. so i made an appointment to come check things out after ramona’s nap.
we’ve seen a few places in the last week, all two-bedrooms. mostly they are as small or even smaller than our current house, because our house has an unusually large living room & a very smart layout without a lot of wasted space. we need space in common areas for our kitchen table (we eat dinner with ramona every night as a family–it’s just something we value as a family goal, so we need room for all of us to sit at the table together), our desks, our immense quantity of books, my sewing table, & space for baby play. all the places we’ve seen so far are duplexes, so we’d have neighbors sharing a wall or floor, with small kitchen that cannot accommodate a table, & average-sized living rooms that are unlikely to fit all of our heavily-used furniture.
i started feeling kind of silly. like, of course the average two-bedroom apartment is probably not going to be able to accommodate two desks, a giant eight-foot sewing table, a few thousand books, & a large solid wood dining table. right? plus a baby. even a baby that doesn’t have as much stuff as the average american baby. (we do try to be minimalist.) we started to realize that if we wanted room for all that stuff, & a private bedroom for ramona, & especially if we wanted to stay in east lawrence, we were going to have to be prepared to spend a little more money.
so i checked this place out &…it’s pretty nice! it’s a whole house, with two large bedrooms upstairs, plus a small room that jared could use as an office. (he’s teaching environmental studies next year & won’t have as large of an office at school–which is saying something because his current office space is literally a windowless 10×10 room that he shares with two other grad students.) there’s more than enough space downstairs for my desk, sewing table, kitchen table, & ramona’s toys & books. it has literally everything we need/want except for a bathtub. which is kind of sobering. i’m not sure how to wash a young toddler without a bathtub. but that, & the extra cost of rent, are the only negatives.
jared asked if we were in a “low rent trap,” where our rent is so low that we can’t imagine moving, even if we know moving would be a enormously positive thing overall. i don’t think we’re in a “trap,” because our current house is pretty great. i don’t feel trapped here. but ramona did get that questionable lead test, we know our house was never deleaded, we know we have chipping paint on our windowsills…if this house is giving ramona some kind of lead poisoning, obviously we have to move. & the new place we saw has solid oak windowsills/door jambs that are not painted.
i keep wishing i could just get a magic 8 ball to make this decision for us. i keep oscillating between, “yes! we’ll take it! wahoo!” & “oh my god, that is so much rent.” even though the landlord was like, “i really want to rent to you. what can you afford? i’m willing to come down in price because i would love to have your family as my tenants.” he even canceled the other showings he had this weekend to wait for us to get our application in on monday.
the other piece that makes this stressful is that my social security is STILL being reviewed. i don’t know if i ever wrote about that? i’ve been on disability since 2002. people on disability get reviewed every few years so social security can make sure they’re still disabled & everything. i was reviewed in 2004 & 2008 & in february i got a letter saying i’m being reviewed again. it seems like every review process is a little bit different. it’s never been the same for me twice. this time, i had to fill out a really long questionnaire about my daily routine & the different ways my disabilities affect my life. my doctor & therapist also had to send in some paperwork about my condition, & i listed jared as my “personal contact that is knowledgeable about my condition,” so he had to fill out a long questionnaire as well.
social security called the other day with a lot of questions about my arthritis & said i would have to go in for a physical exam. with a doctor of their choice. i think these are called consultative exams? i’ve never had to do this before, since i have my own doctors that have always been willing to tell social security about my situation & treatment. but i guess that wasn’t good enough this time?
it’s nerveracking to think about seeing a new doctor, & especially a doctor that potentially holds so much power to decide about the very substance of my future. & i have heard that sometimes these doctors seem to be determined to look at every disability case as a fraud situation. since my physical issues all revolve around pain, for which there is no test or objective measurement, it’s always a little scary for me to talk to them about it. i always feel like my doctors are going to think i’m trying to con them into an oxycontin prescription or something.
the kind of funny (not really) thing about it is that my pain has been especially terrible lately. i think because the seasons are changing? it’s always worse then. i held ramona a lot more than usual yesterday because we spent so much time at that rental house & it had stairs so there was no sense confining her to her stroller & lugging it up & down the stairs. by the time we got home, i was wrecked. i could barely walk because my hips were so jacked up. i had a really hard time sleeping because my back was hurting so much, & there’s something really weird going on with my hands. when i was pregnant, my hands got so puffy that i could barely use them, & they’ve been like that again for the last few months (even though i am definitely not pregnant). not sure if it’s an arthritis thing or what.
anyway. thrilling, i know! all of my reader(s) are undoubtedly on the edge of their seats. long story short: it’s especially terrifying to consider moving into a much more expensive house when my sole source of income could conceivably get pulled out from under me. we definitely rely on that money, & with all my physical issues, crippling anxiety, lack of formal education, & 17-month-old, i have no idea what i could possibly do to replace it if i had to. people are almost never kicked off disability once they’ve been approved (save for the rare cause of obvious fraud or when someone was originally approved for a disability that has clearly been cured, like a broken leg or something), but you know. it could happen. i just try not to think about it too much, since it’s really not my decision to make. (thank you, years of practicing cognitive-behavioral therapy!)